Personal thoughts on current events, cultural events, Israel, Judaism, Jewish/Israel innovations and life from a Jewish perspective - read into that what you may.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Real Issue that the Religious Zionist Community in Israel Must Face

I think that most people today agree with the analysis that the Religious Zionist community in Israel has become a one-issue community – The Land of Israel – and has neglected all other issues from its communal agenda. Some might not like to hear this analysis, but it can't be denied. (The problem isn't the attention given to the to the issue of the Land of Israel but the almost complete neglect of all other issues from the communal agenda).

The question is how do we get out of this situation?

How does this community reinvigorate itself to begin letting its voice be heard on social issues, Jewish identity issues (not just the 'who is a Jew' issue), the issue of public institutions/companies activities on Shabbat, environmental issues, judicial issues, societal ethical/moral norms related issues etc. - all issues that our Torah has guidelines for?

The good news is twofold:

1. More and more efforts are taking place all over the country by groups and individuals from the Dati Leumi community that are connected to the above - i.e - yeshivot and kollels being set up in the middle of cities/towns developing programs with the outside communities, Rav Moti Elon's Mibrasheit program that is spreading in the Mamlachti Dati elementary school system, local tzedakah initiatives, local social justice initiatives etc.

2. A movement aimed at developing an overall Jewish society in Israel, based on Jewish values in every area of life, is growing little by little - Manhigut Yehudit. This movement is still in its infancy and mostly only heard of with regards to the 'Land of Israel' issue, but it is growing. This movement is based upon the premise that in order to make the above change all happen, the Dati Leumi community can no longer just lead itself and look out for its own interests on the communal level, but must work and lead together with the rest of Am Yisrael.

We have much work to do to accomplish this turnaround in the Religious Zionist community, but the key to making it work is the realization that we must work hand in hand together with the other Jews in this country who also care about these issues - only then will we make it work. Once we, as a community, realize that there are other Jews in this country, maybe not as religious as us, who also care about these issues and we are willing to work together with them to place those issues on the communal-Israeli agenda than half the battle will be won.


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